A YEAR OF HIGHS AND LOWS ENDS WITH INTER IN TRANSITION.
The Internacional squad arrived back in Rio Grande do Sul on Monday as the club’s lengthy season finally came to an end.
Despite being crowned South American champions in July following the Colorado’s Copa Libertadores triumph, Inter neglected their Campeonato Brasileiro commitments in order to preserve the squad for the FIFA Club World Cup or as commonly referred to in Brazil – the ‘Mundial’.
Arriving in Abu-Dhabi in high spirits, a heavily reported semi-final defeat at the hands of Congolese surprise package TP Mazembe, broke Colorado hearts ending dreams of a second ‘Mundial’ title in four years.
A comprehensive 4-2 win over South Korean club Seongnam in the third-place playoff did went someway to lifting the spirits of the large travelling Colorado contingent, but there is no doubting that the club’s failure to secure a place in the Club World Cup final is deemed as unacceptable.
In the aftermath of the shock defeat to Mazembe, question marks were immediately raised over the futures of midfielders Guiñazu and D’Alessandro (Boca Juniors and River Plate the respective interested parties). Celso Roth, who had earlier in the year steered the side to the Libertadores title, took much of the blame for Inter’s defeat to Mazembe with criticism levelled at his lack of ideas and uninspiring tactical changes.
Inter’s final match of the year also marked the end of Roberto ‘Pato’ Abbondanzieri’s career with the thirty-eight year old Argentine retiring. ‘Pato’ made his final professional appearance as a substitute in the victory against Seongnam, with his Inter teammates presenting him a with a signed number 22 shirt as a departing gift.
Abbondanzieri has not indicated whether he will continue in the game but spoke of his sadness of leaving Inter. “I’ve got to thank everyone at Inter for their companionship. My career as a player has reached its end but I’ll forever take these memories with me”, explained the former Boca Juniors man who won 49 international caps.
Roth to remain for 2011
Upon returning to Brazil, rumours of Celso Roth’s exit from Inter were widespread with the coach’s contract expiring at the end of the month. Dorival Junior, Abel Braga and Dunga were all mentioned as possible replacements, but yesterday, in an unpopular move by the club, news broke that the Roth had controversially agreed a one year extension to his contract with the club.
Changes at Gigante?
With Roth’s future at Inter confirmed, a number of question marks do remain over a number of the current squad as transfer speculation peaks in Brazilian football.
Possible key departures:
D’Alessandro – The playmaker has been in the best form of his career at Inter, playing an instrumental role in the club’s Libertadores title. After agreeing to remain at the club for the Club World Cup, a return to River Plate could prove tempting for D’Ale, whilst Inter already have
Giuliano and Oscar sitting in wait for a regular first team place.
Guiñazu – A tireless warrior in the heart of the Inter side, many were surprised a year ago when the Argentine almost joined São Paulo. Boca Juniors are said to be courting the thirty-two year old.
Alecsandro – Despite a respectable goal scoring record for Inter, the striker’s inconstinency continues to divide and fustraite fans. With Inter lacking pace up front, the Middle-East or Atlético-MG appear to be possible destinations for Alecsandro.
Marcelo Cordeiro – The left back returns to Inter after being loaned to Botafogo for the season. After falling out of favour at Inter, a return to Rio is likely with either Botafogo or Flamengo.
Danny Morais – Also loaned to Botafogo for the season, a product of the Inter ‘base’ (youth team), the centre back’s future remains unresolved upon his return to Porto Alegre.
Andrezinho – Palmeiras rumoured to be interested in the committed attacking midfielder who continues to struggle for a regular place in the Inter side. Can Inter do without such an experienced squad player?
Possible key arrivals:
Léo Moura – Experienced right back, who is rumoured to be close to leaving underachieving Flamengo. Could Léo Moura be a short-term solution to a position which seems to be an eternal problem for Inter? Marcelo Cordeiro could become a part of the negotiations.
Edinho – After captaining Inter to the Sudamericana title in 2007, the quiet holding midfielder had been linked with a return to the Beira-Rio after unsuccessful spells in Italy and Palmeiras – now expected to join Fluminense.
Kleber – With Inter needing to add firepower to their squad, twenty-seven year old Kleber would certainly fit the bill after gaining a reputation as one of the best strikers in the Campeonato Brasileiro. Owned by Dynamo Kiev but played for Palmeiras and Atlético-MG this season.
Luís Fabiano – Long linked with a move from Sevilla, would the experienced striker be prepared to return to Brazil and could Inter finance any possible deal? Inter would face extremely stiff competition for the former São Paulo striker.
So, Inter head into the new year with two main objectives: defending the Copa Libertadores title and challenging for the Campeonato Brasileiro – a title which has alluded the club since 1979.
The club’s transfer strategy over the next month or so will provide a significant bearing on Inter’s ambitions for the year which starts on 15th January with the Campeonato Gaúcho.
As the result of a major sponsorship agreement for the FGF, the 2011 Campeonato Gaúcho will be known as the Gauchão Coca-Cola 2011.
Inter will use its B-team to compete in the tournament to blood fringe squad players and young talent, in what could become another rollercoaster year for O Colorado.
Internacional’s Club World Cup campaign came to an abrupt end this afternoon after Congelese outfit TP Mazembe handed the Colorado a 2-0 defeat.
Inter started the game brightly with Tinga in particular looking problematic for the Mazembe defence. However after the initial period, Mazemba soon settled into their counterattacking game plan, with the pace of the Africa side proving to be a concern for Celso Roth’s side.
Despite a string of saves from the Mazemba keeper Kidiaba, Inter were unable to break the deadlock before halftime, with the African’s – who had stunned Mexican’s Pucha on Saturday – grew in confidence.
Inter failed to start the second half the same intensity which they had shown in at the beginning of the game and a nice strike from Kabangu gave Mazembe a shock 53rd minute lead.
The goal did little to spur Inter on as Roth introduced Giuliano and Leandro Damião, with any Kidiaba thwarting Inter’s attempts of levelling.
With minutes remaining, Mazembe confirmed Inter’s elimination from the tournament with Kaluyituka drilling in a well struck shot after generous defending from Inter.
Inter: Renan, Nei, Bolívar, Índio, Kleber, Guiñazu, Wilson Matius, D’Alessandro, Tinga (Giuliano), Rafael Sobis (Oscar), Alecsandro (Leandro Damião)
- Should Celso Roth step down as coach? Considering Roth has had months to prepare his team, physically and mentally (Inter conserved themselves throughout the final stages of the Brazilian championship), and other than the opening 15 minutes of today’s game, Inter looked stuck in second gear and naive defensively.
- He showed no real imagination in his changes, reliant on the raw talents of Leandro Damião and Oscar, whilst in replacing Tinga, he withdrew arguably Inter’s best player.
- Abel Braga anyone?
Internacional begin their quest to win their second Club World Cup this afternoon against unlikely semi-finalist TP Mazeme.
Four years ago, Inter – then coached by Abel Braga – stunned Barcelona in the final, thanks to Adriano Gabiru’s second half winner.
Having qualified for the Club World Cup after winning the Copa Libertadores last July, Inter conserved themselves for the final stages of their Campeonato Brasileiro campaign and the squad arrive in Abu-Dhabi at both full strength and full fitness.
Inter coach Celso Roth will field a tried and tested 4-2-2-2 formation with Guiliano – who was voted the best player of the Copa Libertadores – having to make due with a place on the bench. A victory for Inter would see them reach Saturday’s final.
Inter’s opponents TP Mazembe, caused a major upset in their quarter-final tie with Pachuca after holding out to a famous 1-0 victory over the Mexicans.
Whilst Inter will be confident of breaking down the Congolese side, Celso Roth will be aware of Mazembe’s counter-attacking pace.
Inter: Renan; Nei, Bolívar, Índio, Kleber; Wilson Matias, Guiñazu, Tinga, D’Alessandro; Rafael Sobis, Alecsandro
Internacional director and former president Fernando Carvalho has warned Internacional not to underestimate the threat of TP Mazembe in Tuesday’s FIFA Club World Cup semi-final.
The Congolese club stunned Mexican’s Pachuca with a shock 1-0 victory yesterday. Carvalho spoke to Radio Gaúcha where he affirmed the threat that awaited Inter.
“Mazembe are [physically] very similar and their fast counterattacking team. They have a defensive naivety, but compensate for that with alot of guts,” Carvalho explained.
“Let’s hope that Celso [Roth] will work the team hard to face TP Mazembe. They will be a tough opponent. I think Pachuca underestimated them.”
Gauchão experience vital
Facing opponents under considerable pressure to deliver a result is not an unfamiliar position to Inter. The Colorado are a consistently a dominant force in the state championship – the Campeonato Gaúcho.
TP Mazembe share a familiarity with the smaller regional clubs in Rio Grande do Sul who approach fixtures against Inter, knowing it’s often the biggest game of their player’s careers and victory will attract the club widespread media attention throughout the state.
In the 2010 Gauchão, Inter suffered defeats to unfancied opponents Novo Hamburgo, São José and Caxias. Although often fielding weakened sides in these fixtures, Inter will need to count upon their past experiences of competing in the Campeonato Gaúcho to prevent TP Mazembe from recording another shock victory.
Internacional have arrived in Abu-Dhabi for the FIFA World Cup and have undergone their first training session on Asian soil.
The Inter squad endured a lengthy journey to the UAE after an unforseen delay led to the delegation being held up for four hours in Nigeria, which resulted in the club cancelling thier first scheduled training session.
Celso Roth was however able to his players through their paces earlier today as the squad underwent a light night training session at the Sultan Bin Zayed Training Centre.
It has been reported that the entire squad training minus right back Nei who is thought to be suffering with jet lag.
Tomorrow will see Inter’s semi-final opponents confirmed as Mexican’s Pachuca face Congelese side TP Mazembe.
Inter’s semi-final kicks off on Tuesday at 16:00 (GMT), 13:00 (Porto Alegre).
Giovanni Luigi has been confirmed as the new president of Internacional after voting was completed yesterday.
Around 17,000 sócios participated in the voting with Luigi taking a 77.58% share of the votes with Peter Affatato, the rival candidate, taking the remaining 22.42%.
Giovanni Luigi, who has been an influential figure of the Internacional board for a number of year’s is not expected to make major changes to the running of the club and will continue to support the club’s current structure and organisation.
After completing their Campeonato Brasileiro obligations with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Grêmio Prudente on Thursday evening, Celso Roth and the Inter coaching staff continued their preparations for the FIFA Club World Cup continued over the weekend.
Yesterday, the squad underwent a light training session at the Beira-Rio, after watching a video of Internazionale’s 3-1 defeat to Lazio in the Italian Série A.
Inter are set to depart for Abu-Dhabi on Wednesday. Earlier this week the club confirmed the squad numbers of their twenty-three man squad.
1 – Renan (gk)
2 – Bolívar (defence)
3 – Índio (defence)
4 – Nei (right back)
5 – Guiñazu (centre midfield)
6 – Kleber (left back)
7 – Tinga (attacking midfielder)
8 – Giuliano (attacking midfielder)
9 – Alecsandro (forward)
10 – D’Alessandro (attacking midfielder)
11 – Rafael Sobis (forward)
12 – Derley (centre midfield)
13 – Rodrigo (defence)
14 – Ronaldo Alves (defence)
15 – Glaydson (centre midfield)
16 – Juan (defence)
17 – Andrezinho (attacking midfielder)
18 – Oscar (attacking midfielder)
19 – Leandro Damião (forward)
20 – Wilson Matias (centre midfield)
21 – Daniel (right back)
22 – Pato Abbondanzieri (gk)
23 – Lauro (gk)
Vitorio Piffero was present for the draw for the 2011 Copa Libertadores, which was confirmed today in Asunción, Paraguay. Inter are set for some long journeys in their bid to defend their 2010 title, in what appears on paper, to be a relatively straight forward group.
Trips to both Bolivia and Ecuador await the Colorado, whilst a play off between Jaguares of Mexico and an unconfirmed Peruvian team will decide Inter’s final opponents in Group 6 of the competition.
A brief look at their opponents:
Jorge Wilstermann, BOL
Winners of the Bolivian Apertura championship, the Cochabamba based club should not cause Inter too many difficulties.
Ecuadorian powerhouses Emelec and LDU Quito have both qualified for the national final where the runner’s up will be awarded a place in Group 6.
Jaguares – MEX
Inter will be expecting their good record against Mexican opposition to continue when they face Jaguares, who qualify for the Libertadores after their sixth place league finish. Former Grêmio icon Everaldo previously played for the club.
A trip to Peruvian capital is guaranteed for Inter with either Universitario or Alianza Lima to be confirmed as Inter’s final opponents in the group, as the Peruvian league’s third best team.
Inter named fourth choice goalkeeper Muriel behind a youthful quartet of Daniel, Ronaldo Alves, Juan and Massari in defence. Oscar was also named in the starting line-up which featured Rafael Sobis and Leandro Damião up front.
After a goalless first half at the Engenhão, it was one of the most experienced Inter player’s on the field who opened the scoring, as Andrezinho fired in from the edge of the area on 65 minutes.
A raiding run and cross from the highly rated Oscar (pictured) saw Rafael Sobis extend Inter’s lead on 74 minutes with a neat finish from close range. Botafogo immediately pulled a goal however as Antonio Carlos capitalised on poor Inter defending a minute later.
The win leaves Inter in 8th place in the Campeonato Brasileiro with two rounds remaining and ends a winless streak of seven matches.
Ironically, the win also boosts Grêmio’s chances of Libertadores football next season, with Inter’s rivals vying for the fourth remaining Libertadores qualification spot with Botafogo.
Inter: Muriel; Daniel, Ronaldo Alves, Juan e Massari; Glaydson, Derley (Sasha), Andrezinho e Oscar (Tinga); Rafael Sobis e Leandro Damião (Edu)
Inter’s weekly schedule:
- Wednesday (24/11)
9h30 – Training
16h – Training
- Thursday (25/11)
16h – Training
- Friday (26/11)
16h – Training
- Saturday (27/11)
10h – Training followed by ‘concentração’
- Sunday (28/11)
17h – Internacional x Vitória (Brasileirão/37ª round)
Inter have travelled to Rio de Janeiro this weekend with an inexperienced squad for today’s match with Botafogo, as preparations intensify for next months FIFA Clup World Cup.
The only first team player to start is Rafael Sobis who is currently working towards peak fitness before travelling to Abu-Dhabi, whilst six members of Inter’s recent U23 Brasileirao winning side will start as goalkeeper Muriel, Daniel, Ronaldo Aves, Juan and Massari form the Inter defence, whilst highly rated midfielder Oscar starts in midfield.
Celso Roth affirmed that the match provides an ideal opportunity for Inter’s young stars. “They know that they will be evaluated in this game. They have been aware of this not only now, but for a long time because we have bene preparing for the end of the season.We are only doing what has been planned”, explained the Inter coach in yesterday’s press conference.
Botafogo meanwhile have enjoyed a season beyond all expectations. After winning the Rio state championship – the Campeonato Carioca – at the start of the year, Botafogo are now challenging for the Brasileirao’s remaining Copa Libertadores qualifying place. Led by the charamatic Joel Santana – who had an unsuccessful spell as coach of Inter in 2004 – former Inter midfielder Leandro Guerreiro and on-loan left back Marcelo Cordeiro will both likely to start for Botafogo.
Inter team: Muriel; Daniel, Ronaldo Alves, Juan, Massari; Glaydson, Derlei, Andrezinho, Oscar, Rafael Sobis, Leandro Damião
Inter fell behind to the relegation threatened Avaí after just nineteen seconds of play. A sweetly struck shot from right back Patric gave the visitor’s an unlikely early lead. Inter fell further behind before the break before substitute Leandro Damião responded for O Colorado on 34 minutes with a neat finish from close range.
Nine minutes later, Rafael Sobis capped off a well worked goal as Inter added a second to level but any hopes of taking all three points were dashed when Avaí responded almost immediately, as Robinho headed into an open net with reserve ‘keeper Lauro beaten.
After the game, Inter vice-president Fernando Carvalho remained calm despite seeing his side go seven Brasileirão games without victory.
“We are on the eve of playing a world championship. As we are not focused on the competition [Brasileirão], this sort of thing arises in this type of situation.”
“Internazionale are also having problems lately. To me, what has happened today is not very important”, he affirmed.
Inter – Lauro; Nei (Andrezinho), Bolívar, Índio e Kleber; Wilson Matias (Glaydson), Guiñazu, D’Alessandro, Giuliano e Rafael Sobis; Alecsandro (Leandro Damião
Tomorrow I hope to have some detail on the forthcoming presidential elections at Inter and news of success with the club’s under-23 team.